Thursday was supposed to be MLB Opening Day, but COVID-19 has forced that to be pushed back for some time. Baseball, though, reportedly has a couple general time periods in mind for when the season would start, a hopeful date and perhaps the most likely date.
“Baseball is looking at a lot of dates right now, but the target at the moment is in early June,” Passan said. “The idea is that players would go back around mid-May for a second kind of spring training. That would be an abbreviated one – two, two-and-a-half weeks – and that because pitchers wouldn’t be ramped up, they would expand the rosters and go back and play games. We don’t know if it would be in front of empty stadiums…we don’t know if fans would be there…they would love, though, love to start the season in early June, while recognizing that July ultimately may be the likelier and better time to begin the season.”
On March 15, the CDC recommended that groups of 50 or more don’t get together for eight weeks. Mid-May, when Passan is suggesting round two of spring training could begin, would be shortly after that eight-week quarantine period concludes. Of course, rates of those diagnosed with Coronavirus continue to go up, so there’s no indication that at the end of that eight-week period the CDC will advise you to resume large gatherings. Being able to get together with large groups wouldn’t simply affect the ability to have fans at a game, but to have a team with expanded rosters to begin the season.
Whether the season starts on June 1, July 1 or some other time, baseball will have quite a bit to figure out in terms of their schedule. Will playing 162 games – or anything close to that – be realistic? Will teams just play the schedule they were slated to play from June 1 or July 1 on, or will it have to be re-worked to make sure teams play opponents from within their division as many times as possible? There are a lot of moving parts from a logistical standpoint.
The Phillies had been scheduled to open the season in Miami on March 26. Ironically, they could still open the season at Marlins Park, as they are currently scheduled to play in Miami from June 2-4. Their first two games in July are slated to be home games against the San Diego Padres, before they travel to Seattle for interleague play on Fourth of July weekend.
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